Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fun With Dairy

A couple of weeks ago, the boys and I did experiments with dairy for school. It was a blast! I posted on my Facebook status that we had experimented with dairy, and Marie said I should blog about it. I didn't get many pictures of half of the project, but here it is anyway! We made yogurt and butter that day, and since then I have also made cream cheese (which has a byproduct of whey, which comes in handy for me, too!). I'll save the cream cheese for another post, though!

I saw a post about making butter over at Angry Chicken (I just love that blog, but I really don't get the name...), so I decided I needed to try it. I searched for instructions that would allow me to use my Kitchenaid, because I'm a wimp and didn't want to churn by hand or shake a jar for a ridiculous amount of time. I found these instructions, and we got busy. I bought a high quality organic cream to make this, I think it was the Organic Valley brand, and I only used a pint. It took a little bit longer than I thought it would from reading the butter-making accounts I found on the web, but it worked beautifully.

Washing the butter was a bit weird, and I wasn't sure I had done enough (which I did because this butter was used long before it spoiled) but in the end I got one cup of butter and about one cup of fresh buttermilk. The butter was smooth and sweet. It tasted great, melted perfectly, and was even better because we knew we had made it. The buttermilk was not like the thick, cultured buttermilk which you buy at the supermarket (which isn't actually a byproduct of butter making, but milk with a culture added), it was fresh and sweet/tart. Now I understand when I hear people say they loved drinking a glass of fresh buttermilk when they were young. It wasn't anything like what I picture when I think of buttermilk!

Of course, what do you do with buttermilk other than make buttermilk pancakes? Ooh, these were sooo good made with the fresh buttermilk and topped with our fresh butter! I usually put peanut butter on my pancakes, but these were so good even plain, that I couldn't bear to tarnish their purity with the peanut butter, so I used some fresh butter and pure maple syrup. I cannot wait to make these again when I have fresh buttermilk again! Making butter is no cheaper than buying it, but getting the fresh buttermilk makes it a worthwhile endeavor!

Yogurt making was not new to me. I used to make plain yogurt all the time. It was one of Ethan's favorite baby foods. I had gotten out of the habit of making it, though. Here's what you need to make yogurt:
  • a yogurt maker (or you can use your oven - instructions below)
  • 1 quart good quality milk
  • commercial yogurt starter or 1/2 c. plain yogurt (high quality and fresh, room temperature)
  • candy thermometer

First, heat the milk gently until the thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Remove the milk from heat, pour it into the container that comes with the yogurt maker and cool to 110 degrees. You can do this in the refrigerator to speed the process, but watch it closely because it cools quickly once it gets under 120. Once cooled, stir in the yogurt starter. If you are using the 1/2 cup yogurt, stir about a cup of the cooled milk into the yogurt, then stir this back into the rest of the milk.

Place the container into the yogurt maker and process as directed.

I like to process mine for a shorter time, because then end product is milder. I can actually eat the homemade yogurt unsweetened because it is mild. It is great in smoothies and with a bit of fruit or jam, too. If you don't have a yogurt maker, you can pour your mixture into a shallow glass, enamel or stainless steel container. Then place the container into a warm oven (a gas oven with a pilot light or electric oven pre-heated to warm and then turned off) overnight. Your yogurt will be ready in the morning. I've never tried this method, but I've read that it works.

Mmmmm, yogurt. Other than being able to control the tartness, the only other difference between homemade yogurt and commercial yogurt is that homemade is generally runnier than store bought. Really, if you have milk and plain yogurt, there is no reason not to try this! I tried using the 1/2 cup yogurt instead of the starter this week, with not so great results. But that is for another post...


Joanna said...

That is really cool. I have been reading recently about raw milk. I'd like to get some and do stuff like this with it. Gosh, the girls would love this. I think we'll have to try it.

Marie said...

Love this post! I have been wanting to buy a yogurt maker for years because I think the yogurt in the stores is way too sweet. I got some French yogurt once from Dean & Deluca in NY and it was about half as sweet as the American yogurt and it made me wonder why we Americans ruin good natural food with tons of sugar. Anyway, Making yogurt for Ana is a great excuse for me to finally buy a maker!

I am so impressed that you made butter and buttermilk! It seems so intimidating to me and I would never ever try it without knowing someone who's done it successfully. I felt that way about bread before Joanna started making it. I can't wait to get settled into a new kitchen and try it out!

Thanks for the post!

Krystal said...

You MADE butter! My, word!... is there anything you CAN'T do?!?!

That is so awesome!

I'm really interested in trying this now. I'm going to keep this in mind... But I don't have a stand mixer. I've just got a handheld one...